Although it may be argued that the crime of being drunk and disorderly is a primitive poor man’s offence and an abuse of the legal process, the law remains in the Kenyan statutes.
Rarely are rich people charged with being drunk and disorderly. Therefore the arrests are seen to be made more to solicit bribes than to stop any felony. You have to part with money or spend the weekend in custody.
Being disorderly (even without being drunk) is an offence. You risk being jailed or fined if you trample on other people’s rights by being disorderly. Unfortunately what constitutes disorderly conduct is difficult to define. As a result, people are arrested while going about their businesses just for the sake of filling the cells on Friday or Saturday.
Police also use this excuse to limit the number of people loitering at night to make their work of monitoring criminals easier. But if the suspects arrested were to go to full trial, there would be no witnesses because the prosecution has to call the people who were offended by the suspects.
At the station, the suspects, mostly young people, the officers demand Sh1,000 in order to release them and avoid the embarrassment of being detained and paraded in court. While some pay the amount readily, others need a bit of coercing. They are advised to plead guilty because the charges do not attract harsh punishment but if they deny the charge, they would be remanded awaiting trial. Remand cells are on ordeal many people want to avoid. Most pay up at this point and some are released without paying anything while others end up in court.
The sentence can range from, fine, community work for a day to six months in jail.